The Two Things We All Agree On

 

Today’s story is about the two things that we all appear to agree on: The health benefits of eating vegetables, and the health benefits of walking.

Over the weekend, Katie and I visited our friends Laura and Håkan Mårtensson for brunch, a delicious Swedish breakfast of open-faced sandwiches made from incredible bread, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.  We also had cheese, yogurt, and milk.

The cheese, yogurt, and milk, was all made from nuts – there wasn’t any dairy to be had.  Other than the soft-boiled eggs, it was an animal-free breakfast.  In a past life, I’m not sure I’d feel satisfied eating that way.  Yet on Sunday, it was one of the most satisfying meals we’ve had in a while.

Laura and Håkan shared with us their personal practice of trying to eat more vegetables, and that in doing so, they happened to be eating less meat.

Before we carry on, let me be clear that in today’s story, we’re not talking about meat.  That’s a loaded conversation and one we’re going to stay away from for right now.  Today’s plan is to be more agreeable.After our brunch on Sunday, I took a moment to think about the following:

After our brunch on Sunday, I took a moment to think about the broader landscape of the fitness industry:

There are lots of opinions and preferences in the fitness industry. If you know how to manipulate search results, you can find evidence to demonstrate that anything is good for you, and anything is bad for you.

There are lots of opinions and preferences in the fitness industry. If you know how to manipulate search results, you can find evidence to demonstrate that anything is good for you, and anything is bad for you.

There are two things that it seems nobody argues about: Walking and eating vegetables.

These two habits seem to be protected from the politicization that’s proliferated the rest of the fitness industry. This industry loves to talk ourselves in circles about energy systems development, pelvic obliquity, and gluten sensitivity.

When a conversation doesn’t dissolve into internet name-calling, we usually agree to disagree. And yet, it appears there’s a strong consensus across the field about the benefits of walking and the benefits of eating vegetables.

Walking: Do it.
Veggies: Eat them.

Could it be that simple?  Perhaps it could be.  Perhaps as the field of fitness continues to learn more and more about the intricacies of diet and exercise, as we further reduce nutrition and movement to their constituent parts, we simply forget to talk about going for walks and eating our vegetables.

Twenty years ago, my grandmother told me the same thing that someone just got their PhD in: Walking and vegetables are good for you.

When Grandma said it, it was wisdom.  When the Dr. says it, it’s science.  Can we see the irony there?

Somewhere along the way, we began to interpret the general health-enhancing benefits of activities such as walking and eating our vegetables as some sort of penance to the health gods.

It’s not as formal as going for a walk while wearing a heart rate monitor and a fitbit.  It’s not as serious as blending two pounds of kale with kombucha and drinking that concoction.

When I think of the benefits of either, I think of how one might take the stairs as they move throughout the day, or how we might add a few more vegetables to our lunch-time sandwich.  I believe this is most certainly a case of, “A little goes a long way.”

During your day, are you able to spend a few more minutes moving on your feet? Is there a chance to include one more vegetable on your plate?  Making those choices is about practicing health as a habit.

The sheer volume of information regarding health and wellness is maddening, and it can be challenging to find action steps in the chaos. It’s clear to me that if anything is sacred in this field, it’s the benefits of walking and eating your vegetables.

Focus on that, and you’re on the fast track to a healthier life.

Fortunately for me, there’s often a farmer’s market at the top of these stairs:

 

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